Chihuly at the Musée des Beaux Arts, Montréal

I’m not doing a lot of traveling these days, except in my head–and even that is an act of time travel, as I write my way to degree completion. While some days it feels like I and my dissertation will be forever stuck in the perpetual banality of late 1987, I did take time out recently for a Montréal long weekend, one full of all the correct things: good food, beautiful art, and a companionable sharing of YouTube videos (“have you seen…? No? Well, we should watch that one next!”). It was also properly autumnal, which felt like true relief after NYC’s neverending late summer–pulling on boots and tights was yet novel enough to feel refreshing, rather than quotidian.

Of course, on my return to the States I brought the cold weather back with me, and my days since have been marked by the turn towards the chill: hot tea, early sunsets, and long walks in the wind. Montréal remains bright and warm in my memory despite these meteorological musings, however, and this is largely due to having seen Chihuly: Utterly Breathtaking, recently on view at the Musée des Beaux Arts.

To photograph this exhibit was to consciously impose narrative; the site-specific installations were too large to be photographed in their totality, and with glass as the central medium, the visual interest regularly fluctuated between the enormity of those installations and particulate matter of the smallest scale in any case. Still, the warmth of the strong colors, the playful exuberance of Chihuly’s sculptural forms–for me, at least, these photographs do begin to capture the smiles and awe of the exhibit experience. And as the year comes to a close and the sunlight fades, it’s these brightnesses which will provide some joyful sustenance. Such memories make a turn back to the grindstone less painful for the nose.